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Autumn harvest season in Illinois means danger in grain bins

Now that autumn is nearly here, agricultural workers across Illinois will be getting ready for harvest season. This is a busy and profitable period for those in the farming industry. It can also be a deadly time, as workers on farms encounter numerous ways to be involved in a workplace accident, from falls to equipment malfunctions. One of the most dangerous scenarios a farm worker may face during harvest season is grain entrapment. This occurs when a worker becomes buried in a grain cave-in while working inside a storage bin. It only takes seconds for corn or other grain to completely engulf a victim.

Five years ago, Illinois was the top state in the country for grain bin fatalities. That year, two teenagers, ages 14 and 19, were killed in a grain bin accident in Mount Carroll. One more employee made it out alive, but was trapped for hours before rescue workers were able to free him. This tragic incident inspired the formation of the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, as well as statewide safety training in the fall by the Illinois Fire Service Rescue Program.

Despite educational efforts, many workers still suffer an on-the-job injury or fatality due to grain entrapment. In 2014, 38 farm workers were engulfed and 17 lost their lives in grain bins across the country. Safety experts say that these incidents may be prevented by turning off machinery or unloading the auger before going into the storage bin. They also caution not to enter a bin unless absolutely necessary.

Farm employees may suffer serious injuries on the job. They may qualify for workers' compensation, including compensation for their lost wages while they recover from their injuries.

Source: Illinois Farmer Today, "Grain bin safety a concern as farmers ready for harvest," Phyllis Coulter, Aug. 16, 2015

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